Wednesday, May 27, 2015

When we care, we can be changed

When we care, we can be changed.

If you were to think about what it means to confess you might first come up with a definition something like this….to declare or acknowledge ones sins, especially to God.

Consider the idea that the act of confession may not be only in the personal realm.  It can be applied in a broader scope simply meaning “to agree, admit, or acknowledge.”
…To acknowledge or avow a fault, a failure, a wrongdoing, (crime, misdeed, weakness, etc.) by way of revelation
…To own or admit as true
…To reveal by circumstances

Here in Haiti, and in many other places as well, there is much suffering and injustice.  Confession in this regard would mean to acknowledge those who suffer, to see them in their real, very challenging life circumstances.  Revelation of these situations can come from God as he asks us to listen to them, to hear their story, to validate their hardship.  As we validate their stories, we validate them, we give them dignity.

Confession of injustice may reveal failure to care.  When we confess we begin to care.  When we care, we can be changed.

Commitment matters as well when we approach suffering and injustice.  Recommitting ones self to God on a regular basis is a necessary habit.  Without genuine commitment there is risk of setting out on a journey that might not be finished.  The more we understand the stories of those trapped in conditions of suffering and injustice the more we can care.  The more we can be changed. 

How do we increase our capacity to care?  Are we increasingly willing to offer ourselves to God?  We can take more risks with others, we can be more honest with ourselves.  When we care, we can be changed.  We need faith to believe, clear vision to see, and ears to hear.  When we ask for courage to live all this out, we can be changed.

Central College in Pella, IA challenged a team of students to take the risk and spend a week serving while having the chance to see God at work.  With the faith to believe and the courage to live it out, those who belong to God are chosen to take radical steps toward bringing justice to a suffering world.

We traveled with the team back to Haiti after spending several weeks in the states.  We had meetings with MH4H board and staff to share in person what we have been seeing and hearing and doing with the ministry over the previous months. 

        As the rainy season begins, travel through the Central Plateau of Haiti can be slow and arduous.  
                                              (Craig says, "Arduous?  I call it nauseating!")
       This was definitely the case on our ride from Port au Prince to Pignon. The rented van carrying 
   16 people and a ton of luggage got hung up in the rutted, muddy road.  We climbed out onto the muddy        road to lighten the load and the driver was able to get free from the mud and on our way we went.

  The team is relaxing and playing after working alongside the Haitian concrete floor crew at this house

                    We heard this man's story as we shared food and God's word.  His name is Tine.

                  It was easy to see the problems he was having at his home as the rainy season begins.

    Inside Tine's one room home was bright.  Notice the sunlight coming through the holes in the tin roof.                                             But the room was also evidently wet after the rain.  

    The team offered to replace the bad pieces of tin with new...Tin for Tine!  Ebens, MH staff member,   tells Tine that this comes out of the love of Jesus.  Telling Tine that he matters in the kingdom of God.                                                            When we care, we can be changed.

Inside the house, the team discovered another need.  
See below: Tine's bed, 
a stuffed rice sack for a pillow and a couple old t-shirts for a cover that were damp from the rain..

                                A mattress was an affordable gift the team could bring for Tine.

                                  "Mesi anpil!" says Tine.  "Bondye Beni ou." said the team members.  
                                                       (Thank you very much   -   God bless you)

     Krisiana Noel was another woman in tremendous need.  The team brought the blessing of some rice 
                                  and beans and saw the need to make a trip to the mattress store.  

                                                         We were frequent shoppers this week.

                                                                  Mattress delivery...No problem!

                                                         When we care, we can be changed

                                The neighbors were happy for the family that received some food.  
                                                           When they care, they can be changed.

An update...These are the twins from the neighborhood whose mother died in childbirth in March. 
Kris Mylove and Kris Dylove are thriving under the care of their aunt.  They came to the dorm to visit. 

Pictured here are four little girls, all sisters of the twin babies.  The MH goat program provided the way for them to receive this goat.  The program asks that the first female goat be given back to the program to then be passed on to another family.  

                         Finally, Many Hands for Haiti Construction Coordinator, Burns Cesaire. 
            Making a trip to Hinche to buy supplies for a house build he has been working on for MH.

We know God has amazing things planned for the ministry of MH.  
Part of the new land in Sylvain is being prepared for planting.... 
a well will be drilled very soon.... 
new storage for Meals from the Heartland will be made.... 
Buildings for security personnel and the THRIVE program are being designed with construction to begin soon.... 
The community members in Sylvain are being interviewed to evaluate the needs.... 
the new THRIVE program details are being mapped out.... 
selection of participants will happen soon.... 
Teams will be serving throughout the summer.... 

                                              "As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, 
                 clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience."
Colossians 3:12  NRSV

"How does God's love abide in anyone who has the world's goods 
and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help?  
Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action." 
1 John 3:17-18  NRSV

"But let me run loose and free, celebrating God's great work, 
every bone in my body laughing, singing, 'God, there's no one like you.  
You put the down-and-out on their feet and protect the unprotected from bullies!' "
Psalm 35:9-10  The Message

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Regular people

Quite likely it won’t be until we all get to heaven that we can be together with ALL our family and friends.  We have spent time with MANY friends and family members over the past weeks while we have been back in the US and it has been a gift from God! 

The conversations over a meal or just a happenstance meeting have blessed us, refreshed us, and often challenged us to think deep into God’s desire and plan for our time and energy.  As we listen to questions and comments and thoughts shared, it is necessary to evaluate our responses and think beyond into the weeks and months ahead concerning the work God has laid out for us with Many Hand for Haiti.  Through these conversations we are challenged to think about strategies and action steps that are fully aligned with the Word of God. 

What a treat it has been to just be ‘regular’ people the past weeks…regular people finding joy in regular things such as writing down quotable words from Oliver, our grandson, 6 years old and in Kindergarten.  One afternoon Oliver was climbing on TOP of the monkey bars while playing at the park.  Grand Dad cautioned that he should only hang from the bars…”You might fall.”  Oliver challenged the remark, “Jesus would never let that happen to me.”  Is that the child-like faith God’s word says we can have?

                                                      A highlight is a family trip to Holland, MI 
                              to celebrate son Jonathan’s graduation from Western Theological Seminary.  
                                  We had the most amazing gift of staying in a house on Lake Michigan 
                                                           all together with extended family.  

                                                         Michael, Oliver, Ivy, Jennifer, Jonathan

     Again, finding the joy in regular things such as Oliver loosing a tooth 
DURING the graduation ceremony.       
Later the audience prayed the Lord’s Prayer with the graduates.  
After the AMEN, toothless Oliver said, “That’s different than what I say.”  
After a pause, “Why does it say ‘time travel’? 
  The printed prayer read ‘Save us from the time of trial'

                                                                    Jonathan with his wife Anna

                                                                            Toothless Oliver

                                                      Michael and Oliver after graduation

                       On our last evening at the house we watched the sun set over Lake Michigan
                                            “Good bye sun….until next time.” Oliver said quietly. 

    Another regular joy was being in Jonathan and Anna’s apartment 
where our 7 month old granddaughter sat up “all by herself” for the first time…
and the joy of another quotable remark from Ivy’s big brother,
      “She’s only being held up by the angels of Jesus.”

                                                 Tulip Time in Holland, MI was just a bit cold this year

As we pack to travel back to Haiti on Monday, May 18th, we have much on our minds.  Excitement and prayers for our son Michael as he will be traveling soon with 2 friends to visit one of the guys parents in Dubai and traveling again on a college ‘study abroad’ semester September-December 2015.

Excitement and prayers for Jonathan and Anna as Jonathan will be seeking a career position in music ministry.

Excitement and prayers of Thanksgiving for our son-in-law John who has completed his Masters degree and for Jennifer and John as they follow Proverbs 22:6 and work to train their children to be Christ followers. 

  Jennifer and Ivy

Excitement and prayers for our return to Haiti and all the work that is ahead.  Plans for new buildings on new land for new programs to make a new difference in the lives of new people we will meet.  New people, including short term mission team members who will be visiting Haiti and serving God throughout May, June, July and August.  Excitement and prayers for MH4H staff, Haitian and American.

Relying on our own strength and knowledge would be sure disaster.  We know God is able to do great things if we move beyond our desires and focus on what God desires.   

Quoting “Possible” by Stephan Bauman…’The way that works involves both hard work and sustained surrender to God so that his strength, his power, works in and through us.  This principle acknowledges one of the great mysteries, and privileges, of our life with God: we are invited to be the hands and feet of Christ for others, be disciples proclaiming good news to the poor, offering the resurrection power of God to bring his healing, his solutions, his salvation to a broken world. A disciple is “anyone whose ultimate goal is to live as Jesus would live if he were in their place.”  The great mystery of following Jesus is that he lives his life through us. Don’t be tempted to work from your own strength as if everything depends on you.  That always leads to exhaustion, tension, and frustration.’ 

Paul said, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  God didn’t say it would be easy, but he promised help along the way. 

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; 
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; 
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; 
the flames will not set you ablaze.”  Isaiah 43:1-2

And from Luke 4:18-19… “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, 
because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.  
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, 
to let the oppressed go free, 
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

So… Go and BE disciples.